Douglas McLeod, Director of Lift Products at Serco Company Tells Grocery Headquarters how retailers can keep employees and budgets safe.
Douglas McLeod: Bottom line, the need to keep employees safe and productive in the long run is driving the trend in the industry, because we all know that turn over and long-term, lost-time injury claims are expensive.
Grocery stores provide a vital service to the American public and are a major source of employment in the United States. In recent years, the efforts of grocery store owners, managers and employees to increase safety has resulted in fewer occupational injuries and illnesses across this sector. But even with these valiant efforts, thousands of grocery store workers are still injured on the job each year.
Some grocery store work can be physically demanding. Many workers handle thousands of items each day to stock shelves and these tasks involve several ergonomic risk factors. Bending, lifting and twisting are all part of a day’s work for many grocery employees and these manual jobs place additional stress on their shoulders, backs, knees, wrists and necks that over time, can wear down joint, cause back injuries all that are potentially disabling.
What can employers and employees do together to help prevent and discourage these types of injuries?
There are a number of possible solutions, but why not begin with conforming to recommendations made by the US Department of Labor. First published in 2004, the Occupation Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Ergonomics for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders: Guidelines for Retail Grocery Stores, provides practical recommendations to help grocery store employers and employees reduce the number and severity of injuries in the workplace. Many work-related injuries experienced by grocery store workers are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as back injuries and strains that can develop from bending, lifting and overexertion.
OSHA recommends that grocery stockroom and central processing areas should be equipped with turntables and lift tables to reduce the occurrence of these types of injuries. To develop these recommendations, OSHA reviewed existing ergonomic practices and programs in the grocery store industry and conducted site visits to observe existing programs in action. They established that maintaining turntables in stock areas would allow employees to move products to stock shelves more easily and require less force to move by bringing the work to the employee.
Turntables are available from a number of different manufacturers, what should people look for the model they select to do for their employees?
Turntables and lift tables increase productivity and employee safety by effectively automating a variety of simple tasks to bring work to the worker and help employees easily lift and turn materials, saving their backs and joints from the repeated wear and tear that can often cause injuries and Turntables allow workers to rotate their work to them, rather than walking around it to transfer products from storage locations to rail carts. When used with scissor lift tables, they reduce reaching, bending, twisting and walking associated with palletizing operations, easily enhancing both ergonomic and labor-saving benefits.
Most turntable manufacturers offer manual or powered models to efficiently palletize, build-up and break-down product loads, and can be mounted on a scissors lift, stable bench or other surface of any stockroom. They are compact and require little space to operate, saving more room for storage. They reduce the stress put on employees’ backs and other joints when the repetitive tasks associated with stocking shelves are performed every day for multiple hours at a time.
Since there will likely always be some human element working to manually stock America’s shelves, companies must seek alternative, ergonomic solutions to the injuries sustained by grocery warehouse workers. Turntable lifts provide a safe lifting solution for virtually any grocery handling application to help reduce worker fatigue and injuries.
What is Serco’s speciality?
Serco leads the industry in specialty hydraulic dock levelers, safety products and programmable control systems and offers a complete line of dock levelers, vehicle restraints, dock seals and shelters, energy efficient HVLS fans, ergonomic lift products and environmental control systems. Serco is an industry leading brand owned by 4Front Entrematic.